Saturday, February 13, 2016

Red and the Hoffman Device

Once upon a time, in Chinquapin Parish there was this fellow named Red.  Red was a recurring criminal, a multiple felon, and he lived out near Los Adaes.  It's not often we find Spanish names like Los Adaes in Louisina, but the Spanish had more influence in Louisiana than many people believe.

Anyway, back to Red.  He lived out in the woods in near that old Spanish fort.  And PawPaw had him under supervision.   We called him Red because he was ... well... Red.  Red headed, freckled, just a big ol' redneck from back in the woods.  He liked to smoke dope and burglarize houses and he claimed that he worked in the pulp-woods, which gave him plenty of time to case houses.

First, though, we need to talk about the Hoffman Device.  A Hoffman Device is a tank gun simulator.  Used in maneuver training, it provides blast, smoke, and a visual flash, not unlike a real tank gun round.  PawPaw is intimately familiar with these devices, having used them extensively during armored force-on-force training.  It looks like this:

Basically, you mount it on a tank gun, and load those tubes with simulators, which are basically a quarter stick of dynamite formulated to give flash, bang and smoke.  The charges are electrically detonated.  You wire the charges into the tank's firing circuit, and when the gunner pulls the trigger on his Cadillac control, the device fires, giving flash, bang, ad smoke.  Loud, flash, bang, and smoke.  You can hear these things from about a half-mile away through the woods.  Farther if the terrain is more clear.  The charges are encased in a waterproof plastic housing and I recall some white styrofoam in the mix.  Two wires come out of the charge, which provides the firing impulse when the gunner plls the trigger.

But, back to Red.  One beautiful spring morning, I was drinking coffee at the Sheriff's Office when the door to the booking office opened and Red stumbled through the door.  He was followed by two fine Wildlife and Fisheries agents ( a group I affectionately refer to as Possum Cops). We'll call them John and Dave.  Red was, of course, handcuffed.

I was considerably amused.

While John booked Red, Dave told me the story.

"John and I weent out to a landowner this morning.  He suspected that people were poaching deer in his forest land, so John and I decided to take a walk, to hike the woodlot and see if we could find where they were coming in.  We had been walking through the woods for about half an hour, along the back side of his property, walking along a four-stand barbed wire fence, when we heard an explosion.  Loud damned explosion.

"John and I knew that the next property over was an open pasture with a pond in one conrner, so we jumped the fence and came through the woodline and heard another explosion.  We saw water jump about 40 feet in the air.  As we came up over the little spillway, we saw Red standing there with a box of these funny looking things, a truck battery, and a Honda Big Red three-wheeler."

At this time, Dave hands me a box of Hoffman charges, which I recognize immediately.

Dave continues, "Well, Red sees us, drops everything ad jumps on the three-wheeler.  We thought we had lost him, but John said he'd go back for our truck while I chased Red.  We knew that there was a gate on that pasture that fronted Los Adaes road, and I told John to pick me up there.  I start trudging across the pasture, and when I top a little rise, I see Red loading his three-wheeler into a blue Chevy pickup truck.  He jumps in the cab, then jumps out, unloads the three-wheeler, and takes off to the south."

Dave looks at the box.  "What are those things?"

"Hoffman charges," I reply.  Electrically detonated tank gun simulators.  Basically a quarter stick of dynamite with the blasting cap already inserted."

Dave continues. "That explains the battery.  When Red motored off toward the south, I knew that the whole pasture was fenced, so I sat on the tailgate of Red's truck.  In a few minutes, John made it around, and a minute or so after that we heard Red coming around the pasture.  He figured he was caught, so he gave up.

"As it turns out, the battery he was using to set off those things, was the battery out of his truck.  He figured that no one could find him, because he blocked the gate with his truck.  What he forgot was that he couldn't start the truck without the battery.  He didn't count on John and I walking on the other side of the fence.  We got lucky."

"What are you charging him with?" I asked?

"Oh, various and sundry counts of the Fish nd Wildlife code.  Usual stuff, Fishing without a License, Fishing with Explosives, Resisting Arrest by Flight. Whatever else we can think of." Dave looked again at the Hoffman charges.  "Are those things dangerous?"

"Yeah," I replied. "Don't hook a battery to them."  I reflected.  "Y'all are going to be busting beaver dams later this spring, aren't you?"  I looked in the box, which had six charges left. "Make sure you've got plenty of wire and a good twelve-volt battery."

Red went to court later and lost his fishing rights for three years with a healthy fine.. The judge made him serve 90 days, but didnt' revoke his probation, for reasons only a judge will understand. Several months later we had some other run-ins with Red that I'll recount later.

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